Court: No to Plea Deal in Drunk Driving Case

In an unusual step, the Tel Aviv District Court decided yesterday not to accept a plea bargain in the case of a man who killed four people while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Judge Edna Kaplan imposed a sentence of 12 years on Ibrahim Abu-Zina, 28 - two and a half years longer than the sentence agreed on by prosecutor Aviv Sharon and defense attorney Moshe Meroz.

In addition to manslaughter and a number of lesser chargers, Abu-Zina was also convicted of kidnapping one of his victims, Idit Gratzia, in October 2005. Abu-Zina threw Gratzia into the back seat of his car and drove off wildly. At the Lod junction, he ran a red light and smashed into a car in which the three other victims - Allan Mordifer, Margeann Mordifer and Erez Yakobza - were sitting. The judge wrote that Abu-Zina had behaved "like an animal." She also said "his sorrow could not help the families, who cannot bring back those they have lost."

Abu-Zina's attorney, Moshe Meroz, said following the verdict that in not accepting the plea bargain the courts would make it more difficult to arrive at such bargains in the future. He said accused persons would not agree to a plea bargain out of fear that it would not be accepted by the court.

Kaplan said a plea bargain is a starting point in considering a penalty, but the penalty in this case must be serious as a response to wild behavior.